Inetrnational Centre of the Roerichs


“Roerichs: the Indian Way.” Svetoslav Roerich’s Birthday at the IRMT


On October 22, 2023, the Roerich Estate celebrated the 119-th birth anniversary of Svetoslav Roerich – an artist, sage and public figure, founder of the International Roerich Memorial Trust (IRMT, Naggar) and the International Centre of the Roerich (ICR, Moscow), the youngest son of Nicholas and Helena Roerich.

Svetoslav’s portrait was placed under a four-trunked pine-tree near the Roerichs’ house, by tradition, shanti-puja was held, uniting Indian, Russian and Belarusian guests in a sacred prayer. Then the IRMT guests laid flower garlands on the bronze sculptures of Svetoslav Roerich and Devika Rani and on the bronze busts of Nicholas and Helena Roerich. Together with his parents, Svetoslav Roerich lived and worked in the Kullu Valley for about twenty years, and then, along with his wife Devika Rani, undertook a mission to preserve the Roerich Estate and turn it into a memorial museum centre.

The official ceremony of hoisting the national flags of India and Russia and the Banner of Peace near the Roerich Memorial House was attended by the honourable guests of the Festival: Mr Denis Alipov, Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the Republic of India, Mr Ashutosh Garg, Head of the Kullu District Administration of Himachal Pradesh, Mr Andrey Rzheussky, Ambassador of the Republic of Belarus to the Republic of India.

One of the main events of the Festival was the opening of the exhibition of reproductions of Svetoslav Roerich’s paintings “My Beloved India”, prepared in cooperation with the International Centre of the Roerichs (Moscow), with the support of the Russian Embassy in India. The tour of the exhibition was conducted by Mrs Larisa Surgina, the Russian Curator of the IRMT, an employee of the ICR, working in the Trust under the Agreement of Cooperation between the ICR and the IRMT, signed in October 2012. She told the guests about the main stages of Svetoslav Roerich’s work related to India and noted that all his paintings are united by the leitmotif of deep love for India and admiration for its beauty and wisdom.

An exhibition of watercolours “The Essence of Art” by Mr Ankush, an artist from the Indian state of Punjab, was inaugurated at the IRMT Conference Hall. Most of the works presented at the exhibition depict the grandeur and beauty of Himalayan peaks, forests and ancient temples, while others depict poetic landscapes of his native Punjab. A separate series consists of images of animals and birds, captured with photographic accuracy and vividly conveying their character. In all the watercolours one can feel the artist’s attentive eye and desire to share his love for the world around him with the viewer.

And two more exhibitions attracted the attention of the guests of the festival. The honourable guests of the festival were invited to the Helena Roerich Academy of Arts for Children, where the exhibition of children’s drawings “Russia – India: on the Vastness of Beauty and Friendship” was opened on October 5. The exhibition presented works of Indian and Russian children – winners of the festival of children’s and youth creativity “Russia – India: from Heart to Heart”, which was launched in 2017 by the traditional children’s panting competition at the IRMT. Currently, thanks to the enthusiasm of the ICR volunteers (Moscow) led by Tamara Merges and Vasily Tkachev, the festival has spread to many cities and towns in Russia, and the exhibitions of drawings by Indian and Russian children, like doves of peace, carry the bright message of friendship, joy and unity into our hearts.

An exhibition of works by the winners of the children’s drawing competition, also held at the IRMT on October 5 this year, was opened at the IRMT Green Theatre for the duration of the festival. Pupils from schools in the Kullu Valley and students of the Helena Roerich Academy of Arts for Children took part in the competition. The theme was “Great India through the eyes of Roerichs”. Next year in Russia these works will take part in the jubilee competition, which will be dedicated to the 150-th birth anniversary of Nicholas Roerich and will be held within the framework of the festival “Realm of the Roerichs.”

Here, next to the exhibition, friends-volunteers of ICR from Russia and Belarus in elegant national costumes unfolded a small exhibition of souvenirs and sweets, cordially offering treats to children and adults. 

The Indian Curator Mr Suresh Kumar and the Russian curator Mrs Larisa Surgina congratulated everyone on the occasion of Svetoslav Roerich’s birthday and noted that the IRMT, following the will of its founder, has truly become a focus of Russian-Indian friendship and cooperation. Our spiritual ties are growing stronger through joint weekdays and holidays, and the IRMT is getting better turning into a museum and cultural centre of the international level. The curators thanked the government of Himachal Pradesh; the Kullu district administration and personally the head Mr Ashutosh Garg; the International Centre of the Roerichs in Moscow and the Russian Embassy in India; and the whole friendly Russian-Indian staff of the International Roerich Memorial Trust for their great help and support.

Mr Denis Alipov, Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the Republic of India, in his address noted that the Roerich family is deeply loved, respected and honoured in India. The Roerich Estate in Naggar is part of a unique world heritage and the Russian Embassy always supports the International Roerich Memorial Trust as one of the major India-Russia joint cultural projects.

The musical programme began with a performance by students of the Helena Roerich Academy of Arts for Children. Under the guidance of teachers Anshul Kumar, Mamta Thakur and Anup Kumar, the children in brightly coloured costumes presented Indian songs and dances to the audience, and together with the Russian guests sang the Russian children's song “They teach at school”.

In the second part of the concert there was a performance by the honoured dance ensemble “Raketa” from Nizhny Novgorod under the direction of Daniil and Natalia Vereshchagin, invited by the Indian Council for Cultural Relations. The group impressed the audience with the dynamics of the dance presentation, which combined modern and folk dance, sports, ritual and ethnic elements. It was an introduction to new facets of Russian modern dance culture.

The October Roerich Cultural Festival at the Roerich Estate in Naggar, dedicated to the 100-th anniversary of the Roerichs’ arrival in India and the 95-th anniversary of their arrival in the Kullu Valley, has come to an end. On the threshold of the next year, 2024, the jubilee year for the Roerich family, we would like to recall the words of Nicholas Roerich: “The world is moving. There is nothing new in it. Yes, yes, it is moving, constantly changing and striving for a better future. A dream of the future! We live for its sake. For its sake we love creative labour. For its sake we can smile and rejoice. And the power of a human being, applied to the common good, to the common ascent, is not insignificant. Each sunrise calls forward, forward and forward.”

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